The involvement of mental health service users and their caregivers in health system policy and planning, service monitoring and research can contribute to mental health system strengthening, but as yet there have been very few efforts to do so in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
This systematic review examined the evidence and experience of service user and caregiver involvement in mental health system strengthening, as well as models of best practice for evaluation of capacity-building activities that facilitate their greater participation. Both the peer-reviewed and the grey literature were included in the review. 20 papers matched the inclusion criteria. Overall, the review found that although there were examples of service user and caregiver involvement in mental health system strengthening in numerous countries, there was a lack of high-quality research and a weak evidence base for the work that was being conducted across countries.
Further research on service user and caregiver involvement in mental health system strengthening in LMICs is recommended, in particular research that includes more rigorous evaluation. A series of specific recommendations are provided based on the review.
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